A Guide to Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals

S.M.A.R.T. Goals Guide

Supervisors preparing for, and facilitating the Staff Annual Performance Evaluation Process, are required to establish performance goals and objectives with, and for each employee. All goals must be aligned with the University’s, Division, and/or Departmental goals and initiatives.

Goals and Objectives must be prepared with input from the employee and reviewed by the employee prior to submission. Performance Evaluations will be rejected if Goals and Objectives are not prepared and submitted on behalf of the employee.

When you, the supervisor, and your employee have agreed upon the employee’s goals, complete the Goals and Objectives section of the Performance Evaluation form.

Should you have any questions or require assistance, please contact Human Resources at hrconfidential@jsu.edu.

Goals and Objectives should be S.M.A.R.T., which means goals should be:


Below defines each of the S.M.A.R.T. goals criteria.

Specific: Goals should be well-defined, detailed, focused, straight-forward, and actionable. A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. To set a specific goal you must answer the six "W" questions:

  • Who: Who is involved?
  • What: What do I want to accomplish?
  • Where: Identify a location.
  • When: Establish a time frame.
  • Which: Identify requirements and constraints.
  • Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.


  • What exactly am I going to do?
  • Why is it important to do this?
  • How am I going to do this?
  • Is it clear who is involved?

Measurable: Identify and document ways to measure progress toward the achievement of each established goal. One must be able to recognize tangible evidence that the goal has been accomplished or the progress made towards the completion of the goal. Measurable criteria could be:

  • Quantity
  • Quality
  • Timeliness
  • Date(s)
  • Cost Effectiveness
  • Percent Changed
  • Tracked


  • How will I know when this goal has been achieved?
  • What measurements can I use?
  • When do I want this to be completed?
  • Can these measurements be obtained?

Attainable / Achievable: Goals should be achievable and realistic but, should challenge the employee. Most goals could be accomplished when a plan with action steps is put in place, and a time-frame is established for the employee to carry out those steps. Attainable goals:

  • Can actually be accomplished
  • Can really do within the time frame
  • Detailed
  • Focused
  • Well-defined
  • Straight-forward
  • Action-oriented


  • Is this possible?
  • Why is it important to do this?
  • How am I going to do this?
  • Are there factors beyond my control that need to be considered?
  • Has anyone else done this successfully?

Realistic / Relevant: A relevant goal should be consistent with the University’s Mission, Vision, and Strategic Initiatives. Identify goals that are most important and relevant to the School/Department/Unit. A goal must represent an objective that the goal-setter is willing and able to work towards. Where appropriate, link the goal to a higher-level department or organizational goal. A relevant goal will usually answer the following questions:

  • Do I have the resources (skills, funding, equipment, staff, etc.) to accomplish?
  • Do I need to rearrange my priorities to accomplish?
  • Is it possible to complete this objective?

Time-Based: Goals should be linked to a timeframe; goals should have a starting point and an ending point. Complex goals should be broken down into smaller pars with dates for completion.


  • What is the earliest, yet achievable and realistic date for this to be completed?
  • Have I included this date in the statement of the objective?
  • When and how often do I need responses, reports, summaries, agendas, schedules, status updates?


  • Department Goals link to University/Divisional Goals and Objectives
  • Manager and Supervisor Goals support Department Goals
  • Employee Goals align with Department Goals
  • Aligned goals help employees see how their day-to-day activities contribute to the success of the University

Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Achievable, Realistic/Relevant, and Time-based.